Phil Spector gets 19 years to life for murder

Fri May 29, 2009 8:09pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Still maintaining his innocence, music producer Phil Spector was sentenced on Friday to at least 19 years in prison for the 2003 murder of a Hollywood actress and could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Spector, 69, who revolutionized pop music in the 1960s with his layered "Wall of Sound" production technique, was convicted in April of second-degree murder after a second trial. The first trial deadlocked in 2007.

Lana Clarkson, 40, a B-movie actress, died of a shot to the mouth, fired from Spector's gun in the foyer of his mock castle home outside Los Angeles on February 3, 2003. The two met hours earlier at a Hollywood nightclub.

Spector, wearing a black suit and looking pale and tense, showed no emotion when Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler sentenced him to 19 years to life in prison.

He must spend 19 years behind bars before he is eligible for parole. At that time, Spector will be 88.

Spector's defense team immediately filed an appeal. His fourth wife Rachelle Short, 28, a model/actress who Spector quietly married in 2006, said her husband was "very sad and very upset".

She told reporters that prosecutors at the two long trials had "made him into a monster". But she said the man she knows is "the most kind and giving and generous man that I have ever met in my life."

The reclusive producer, who worked with The Ronettes, The Beatles, Cher and Leonard Cohen at the height of his fame, did not testify at either trial. His defense team said in court papers filed this week that Spector insists "he did not kill Lana Clarkson, and he is not responsible for her death."   Continued...

<p>Music producer Phil Spector (L) sits in court with his attorney Dennis Riordan at the Los Angeles Superior Court, during his sentencing for the February 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson May 29, 2009. REUTERS/Al Seib/Pool</p>